Must See Movies

Whenever I’ve spoken to anyone about my cinematic portrayal of recruitment and selection film project, one type of question keeps raising its head: What are the best, greatest, or most enjoyable films I’ve seen? Throughout the project, I have found this question impossible to answer in the singular and instead I’ve responded by talking about how events, moods and emotions influence my choice. I even started using the question myself to teach others about rational decision-making (i.e., the idea that you must know what you are looking for by setting selection criteria, before seeking possible candidates, comparing the candidates to the selection criteria, and choosing the one that satisfies all of the criteria). My criteria for selecting a film as one of the greatest of all time are as follows:

  • It must have internal consistency that allows the suspension of disbelief: a coherent, consistent and believable plot, even if the plot is based on fantasy or the surreal.
  • It must portray people as complex, multidimensional beings.
  • It must be well-scripted, well-acted and beautifully shot.
  • It must have a message or purpose that transcends the basic plot.
  • It must stand multiple viewings with new ideas or feelings emerging on each viewing.
  • It is judged on how well it stands up and excites in the first decade of the twenty-first century.
  • I must want to watch it again and again and again.

This is a demanding list of criteria that few films can achieve. However, all of the following satisfy these criteria for me. And as such, they are my greatest films of all time and ones that I recommend without hesitation. They are listed in alphabetical order. I should add that I haven't completed the viewing of the 1000 or so films in my database, so this list is incomplete and will be added to as I see more films.

If you are interested in reading my weekly film reviews, you will find them available to the public on my Facebook page.

Adventureland (2009, US, Greg Mottola (Director), Anne Carey, Ted Hope and Sidney Kimmel (Producers), 107 mins)

Ai no Mukidashi (Love Exposure; 2008, Japanese, Shion Sono (Director), Haruo Umekawa (Producers), 240 mins)

All the President’s Men (1976, US, Alan J Pakula (Director), William Coblenz (Producer), 138 mins)

American Beauty (1999, US, Sam Mendes (Director), Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks (Producers), 122 mins)

American Graffiti (1973, US, George Lucas (Director), Francis Ford Coppola (Producer), 108 mins)

American Werewolf in London, An (1981, British, John Landis (Director, Producer), 97 mins)

Argo (2012, US, Ben Affleck (Director, Producer), George Clooney and Grant Heslov (Producers), 120 mins)

Arven (Arvet/Inheritance; 2003, Danish/Swedish/Norwegian/British, Per Fly (Director), Ib Tardini (Producer), 110 mins)

Away We Go (2009, US/British, Sam Mendes (Director, Producer), Peter Saraf, Edward Saxon and Marc Turtletaub (Producers), 98 mins)

Babettes Gaestebud (Babette’s Feast; 1987, Danish, Gabriel Axel (Director), Just Betzer and Bo Christensen (Producers), 103 mins)

Bakushŭ (Early Summer; 1951, Japanese, Yasujiro Ozu (Director), Takeshi Yamamoto (Producer), 135 mins, B&W)

Battaglia di Algeri, La (The Battle of Algiers; 1965, Algerian/Italian, Gillo Pontecorvo (Director), Antonio Musu and Yacef Saadi (Producers), 135 mins, B&W)

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007, US, Sidney Lumet (Director), Michael Cerenzie, William S. Gilmore, Brian Linse and Paul Parmar (Producers), 117 mins)

Best Years of Our Lives, The (1946, US, William Wyler (Director), Samuel Goldwyn (Producer), 163 mins, B&W)

Black Fish (2013, US, Gabriela Cowperthwaite (Director, Producer), Manuel Oteyza (Producer), 83 mins)

Blue Valentine (2010, US, Derek Cianfrance (Director), Lynette Howell, Alex Orlovsky and Jamie Patricof (Producers), 112 mins)

Bowling For Columbine (2002, Canadian/German/US, Michael Moore (Director, Producer), Kathleen Glynn and Jim Czarnecki (Producers), 120 mins)

Boyhood (2014, US, Richard Linklater (Director, Producer), Jonathan Sehring, John Sloss, and Cathleen Sutherland (Producers), 165 mins)

Brødre (Brothers; 2004, Danish, Susanne Bier (Director), Peter Aalbæk Jensen and Sisse Graum Jørgensen (Producers), 112 mins)

Bronenosets Potyomkin (Battleship Potemkin; 1925, USSR, Sergei Eisenstein (Director), Jacob Bliokh (Producer), 74 mins, B&W)

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969, US, George Roy Hill (Director), John Foreman (Producer), 110 mins)

Cannibal Holocaust (1980, Italian, Ruggero Deodato (Director), Franco Di Nunzio and Franco Palaggi (Producers), 95 mins)

Carry On Cleo (1964, British, Gerald Thomas (Director), Peter Rogers (Producer), 88 mins)

Cashback (2006, British, Sean Ellis (Director, Producer), Lene Bausager (Producer), 102 mins)

Catch Me If You Can (2003, US, Steven Spielberg (Director), Steven Spielberg and Walter F. Parkes (Producers), 135 mins)

Cercle Rouge, Le (The Red Circle; 1970, French, Jean-Pierre Melville (Director), Robert Dorfmann (Producer), 136 mins)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005, US, Tim Burton (Director), Brad Grey and Richard D. Zanuck (Producers), 110 mins)

Dark Knight, The (2008, US, Christopher Nolan (Director, Producer), Emma Thomas and Charles Roven (Producers), 152 mins)

Day of the Jackal, The (1973, British/French, Fred Zinnermann (Director), John Woolf (Producer), 142 mins)

Day the Earth Caught Fire, The (1961, British, Val Guest (Director, Producer), 99 mins, B&W)

Day the Earth Stood Still, The (1951, US, Robert Wise (Director), Julian Blaustein (Producer), 92 mins, B&W)

Departed, The (2006, US/Hong Kong, Martin Scorsese (Director), Brad Pitt, Brad Grey and Graham King (Producers), 151 mins)

Diarios de Motocicleta (The Motorcycle Diaries; 2004, US/German/British/Argentine, Walter Salles (Director), Michael Nozik, Edgard Tenenbaum and Karen Tenkhoff (Producers), 126 mins)

Edge of Tomorrow (2014, US/Australian, Doug Liman (Director), Jason Hoffs, Gregory Jacobs, Tom Lassally, Jeffrey Silver, and Erwin Stoff (Producers), 113 mins)

Edward Scissorhands (1990, US, Tim Burton (Director, Producer), Denise Di Novi (Producer), 103 mins)

Elf (Buddy der Weihnachtself; 2003, German/US, Jon Favreau (Director), Jon Berg, Todd Komarnicki and Shauna Robertson (Producers), 110 mins)

English Vinglish (2012, Indian, Gauri Shinde (Director), R. Balki (Producer), 134 mins)

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986, US, John Hughes (Director, Producer), Tom Jacobson (Producer), 102 mins)

Festen (The Celebration; 1998, Danish/Swedish, Thomas Vinterberg (Director), Birgitte Hald (Producer), 100 mins)

Field of Dreams (1989, US, Phil Alden Robinson (Director), Lawrence Gordon and Charles Gordon (Producers), 106 mins)

Flying Scotsman, The (2006, German/British, Douglas Mackinnon (Director), Peter Broughan, Sara Giles, Peter Gallagher and Damita Nikapota (Producers), 96 mins)

Forbidden Planet (1956, US, Herman Hoffman (Director), Nicholas Nayfack (Producer), 94 mins)

4 Luni, 3 Saptamâni si 2 Zile (4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days; 2007, Romanian, Cristian Mungiu (Director, Producer), Oleg Mutu (Producer), 113 mins)

Full Metal Jacket (1987, US, Stanley Kubrick (Director, Producer), 116 mins)

Gandhi (1982, British/Indian, Richard Attenborough (Director, Producer), 183 mins) Ghostbusters (1984, US, Ivan Reitman (Director, Producer), 105 mins)

Good Night, and Good Luck (2005, US/French/British/Japanese, George Clooney (Director), Grant Heslov (Producer), 90 mins, B&W)

Grande Illusion, La (The Grand Illusion; 1937, French, Jean Renoir (Director), Albert Pinkovitch and Frank Rollmer (Producers), 109 mins, B&W)

Great Escape, The (1962, US/West German, John Sturges (Director, Producer), 173 mins)

Groundhog Day (1993, US, Harold Ramis (Director), Trevor Albert and Harold Ramis (Producers), 101 mins)

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005, US/British, Mike Newell (Director), David Heyman (Producer), 151 mins)

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001, US/British, Chris Columbus (Director), David Heyman (Producer), 152 mins)

High Noon (1952, US, Fred Zinnemann (Director), Stanley Kramer (Producer), 85 mins)

Ikiru (Living; 1952, Japanese, Akira Kurosawa (Director), Sôjirô Motoki (Producer), 137 mins, B&W)

Incendies (2010, Canadian/French, Denis Villeneuve (Director), Luc Déry and Kim McCraw (Producers), 130 mins)

Insider, The (1999, US, Michael Mann (Director, Producer), Pieter Jan Brugge (Producer), 151 mins)

Italiensk for Begyndere (Italian for Beginners; 2000, Danish, Lone Scherfig (Director), Ib Tardini (Producer), 107 mins)

Jésus de Montréal (Jesus of Montreal; 1989, Canadian/French, Denys Arcand (Director), Roger Frappier and Pierre Gendron (Producers), 120 mins)

Jigureul Jikyeora! (Save the Green Planet; 2003, South Korean, Jang Jun-Hwan (Director), Tcha Sung-Jai, Lee Kang-Bok and Romeo Noh (Producers), 113 mins)

Journey to the Centre of the Earth (2008, US, Eric Brevig (Director), Beau Flynn, Cary Granat and Charlotte Huggins (Producers), 92 mins, 3D)

Judgement at Nuremberg (1961, French, Stanley Kramer (Director, Producer), 186 mins, B&W)

Juno (2007, US/Canadian/Hungarian, Jason Reitman (Director), Lianne Halfon, John Malkevich, Mason Novick and Russell Smith (Producers), 96 mins)

Kiraware Matsuko no Isshô (Memories of Matsuko; 2006, Japanese, Tetsuya Nakashima (Director), Yûji Ishida and Hidemi Satani (Producers), 135 mins)

K-Pax (2001, US, Iain Softley (Director), Robert F. Colesberry, Lawrence Gordon and Lloyd Levin (Producers), 120 mins)

Kramer vs Kramer (1979, US, Robert Benton (Director), Stanley R. Jaffe (Producer), 105 mins)

Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (2001, Indian, Ashutosh Gowariker (Director), Aamir Khan (Producer), 215 mins)

London to Brighton (2006, British, Paul Andrew Williams (Director, Producer), Ken Marshall and Rachel Robey (Producers), 83 mins)

Lucía y el Sexo (Sex and Lucia; 2001, Spanish/French Julio Medem (Director), Fernando Bovaira and Enrique López Lavigne (Producers), 128 mins)

Magnificent Seven, The (1960, US, John Sturges (Director, Producer), 138 mins)

Man for All Seasons, A (1966, British, Fred Zinnemann (Director, Producer), 116 mins)

Matter of Life and Death, A (1946, US, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (Directors and Producers), 104 mins, B&W and colour)

Mrs. Doubtfire (1993, US, Chris Columbus (Director), Marsha Garces Williams, Robin Williams and Mark Radcliffe (Producers), 125 mins)

Never Let Me Go (2010, British/US, Mark Romanek (Director), Alex Garland, Andrew Macdonald and Allon Reich (Producers), 103 mins)

North by Northwest (1959, US, Alfred Hitchcock (Director, Producer), 131 mins)

Odishon (Audition; 1999, Japanese, Takashi Miike (Director), Akemi Suyama and Satoshi Fukushima (Producers), 115 mins)

Okuribito (Departures; 2008, Japanese, Yôjirô Takita (Director), Toshiaki Nakazawa, Ichirô Nobukuni, and Toshihisa Watai (Producers), 130 mins)

Przesluchanie (Interrogation; 1982, Polish, Ryszard Bugajski (Director), Tadeusz Drewno (Producer), 111 mins)

Pulp Fiction (1994, US, Quentin Tarantino (Director), Lawrence Bender (Producer), 154 mins)

Punishment Park (1971, British/US, Peter Watkins (Director), Susan Martin (Producer), 88 mins)

Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002, Australian/British, Philip Noyce (Director, Producer), Christine Olsen (Producer), 89 mins)

Rashômon (1950, Japanese, Akira Kurosawa (Director), Minoru Jingo (Producer), 86 mins, B&W)

Rebecca (1940, US, Alfred Hitchcock (Director), David O. Selznick (Producer), 126 mins, B&W)

Rocky (1976, US, John G. Avildsen (Director), Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff (Producers), 119 mins)

Rush (2013, US/German/British, Ron Howard (Director, Producer), Andrew Eaton, Eric Fellner, Brian Grazer, Peter Morgan, and Brian Oliver (Producers), 123 mins)

Safe Haven (2013, US, Lasse Hallström (Director), Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey, Ryan Kavanaugh, and Nicholas Sparks (Producers), 115 mins)

Secreto de Sus Ojos, El (The Secret in their Eyes; 2009, Argentinian/Spanish, Juan José Campanella (Director, Producer), Mariela Besuievski and Carolina Urbieta (Producers), 129 mins)

Shawshank Redemption, The (1994, US, Frank Darabont (Director), Niki Marvin (Producer), 142 mins)

Shichinin no Samurai (Seven Samurai; 1954, Japan, Akira Kurosawa (Director), Shojiro Motoki (Producer), 200 mins, B&W)

Singin’ in the Rain (1952, US, Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly (Directors), Arthur Freed (Producer), 102 mins)

Slumdog Millionaire (2008, British/US, Danny Boyle (Director), Christian Colson (Producer), 120 mins)

Spartacus (1960, US, Stanley Kubrick (Director), Edward Lewis (Producer), 196 mins)

Star Trek (aka Star Trek XI; 2009, US, J.J. Abrams (Director, Producer), Damon Lindelof (Producer), 126 mins)

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986, US, Leonard Nimoy (Director), Harve Bennett (Producer), 114 mins)

Station Agent, The (2003, US, Tom McCarthy (Director), Mary Jane Skalski, Robert May and Kathryn Tucker (Producers), 89 mins)

Tampopo (1986, Japan, Juzo Itami (Director, Producer), 114 mins)

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991, US/French, James Cameron (Director, Producer), 147 mins)

Tokyo Monogatari (Tokyo Story; 1953, Japanese, Yasujiro Ozu (Director), Takeshi Yamamoto (Producer), 140 mins, B&W)

Trou, Le (The Hole; 1960, French/Italian, Jacques Becker (Director), Serge Silberman Producer), 126 mins, B&W)

12 Angry Men (1957, US, Sidney Lumet (Director), Henry Fonda and Reginald Rose (Producers), 95 mins, B&W)

Up in the Air (2009, US, Jason Reitman (Director, Producer), Jeffrey Clifford, Daniel Dubiecki and Ivan Reitman (Producers), 109 mins)

Visitor, The (2007, US, Thomas McCarthy (Director), Michael London and Mary Jane Skalski (Producers), 104 mins)

Wandâfuru Raifu (After Life; 1998, Japanese, Hirokazu Koreeda (Director), Masayuki Akieda and Shiho Sato (Producers), 118 mins)

Welle, Die (The Wave; 2008, German, Dennis Gansel (Director), Nina Maag (Producers), 102 mins)

Wings (1927, US, William A. Wellman (Director), Lucien Hubbard (Producer), 144 mins, B&W with tinting and spot colour, Restored version, 2012)

Wrestler, The (2008, US, Darren Aronofsky (Director, Producer), Scott Franklin (Producer), 115mins)

Zodiac (2007, US, David Fincher (Director), Ceán Chaffin, Brad Fincher, Mike Medavoy, Arnold Messer and James Vanderbilt (Producers), 158 mins)


Must Miss Movies

Sadly, not all films are great and in my viewing of my database, I have come across some utterly terrible films. Here is a list of films that you should avoid at all costs. To my eyes, these are so irredeemably bad that you should make strenuous efforts to dodge them. No matter what anyone tells you, do not waste one moment of your life watching these films. Some of these are just poorly made (e.g. The Godfather Part III; Prêt-a-Porter), others are vacuous and immensely dull (e.g. The Interpreter; Bad Education), others maybe landmark films but are unwatchable (Last Year in Marienbad) and others are so revolting in their sentiment or treatment of the subject that they are completely objectionable (e.g. The Birth of a Nation; The Iron Lady, Modern Times; Star Wars Episode 1, The Phantom Menace). To my eyes, these are films with no redeeming features (not even by a parade of naked supermodels as in Prêt-a-Porter).

Alexander (Director’s Cut) (2004, German/French/British/Dutch/Italian, Oliver Stone (Director), Thomas Schühly, Jon Kilik, Iain Smith and Moritz Borman (Producers), 160 mins)

Alice in Wonderland 2D/3D (2010, US, Tim Burton (Director, Producer), Joe Roth, Jennifer Todd, Suzanne Todd and Richard D. Zanuck (Producers), 108 mins)

Année Dernière à Marienbad, L’ (Last Year in Marienbad; 1960, French/Italian, Alain Resnais (Director), Pierre Courau and Raymond Froment (Producer), 90 mins, B&W)

Being There (1979, US, Hal Ashby (Director), Andrew Braunsberg (Producer), 125 mins)

Birth of a Nation, The (1915, US, DW Griffith (Director, Producer), XX mins, B&W)

Exorcist II: The Heretic, The (1977, US, John Boorman (Director, Producer), Richard Lederer (Producer), 118 mins)

Falling Down (1992, US, Joel Schumacher (Director), Arnold Kopelson, Herschel Weingrod and Timothy Harris (Producers), 115 mins)

Forrest Gump (1994, US, Robert Zemeckis (Director), Wendy Finerman, Steve Tisch and Steve Starkey (Producers), 136 mins, Colour and B&W)

Godfather Part III, The (1990, US, Francis Ford Coppola (Director, Producer) 162 mins)

Good Will Hunting (1997, US, Gus Van Sant (Director), Lawrence Bender (Producer), 121 mins)

Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, The (L’Imaginarium du Docteur Parnassus; 2009, French/Canadian/British, Terry Gilliam (Director, Producer), Amy Gilliam, Samuel Hadida and William Vince (Producers), 122 mins)

I’m Not There (2007, US/German, Todd Haynes (Director), John Goldwyn, Jeff Rosen, John Sloss, James D. Stern and Christine Vachon (Producers), 135 mins, B&W & Colour)

Interpreter, The (Die Dolmetscherin; 2005, German/US/British, Sydney Pollack (Director), Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Kevin Misher (Producers), 128 mins)

Iron Lady, The (2011, British/French, Phyllida Lloyd (Director), Damian Jones (Producer), 105 mins)

Knack …and How to Get It, The (1965, British, Richard Lester (Director), Oscar Lewenstein (Producer), 85 mins)

Life Aquatic With Steve Ziszou, The (2004, US, Wes Anderson (Director, Producer), Barry Mendel and Scott Rudin (Producers), 119 mins)

Lost Highway (1996, US, David Lynch (Director), Deepak Nayar, Tom Sternberg and Mary Sweeney (Producers), 126 mins)

Mala Educación, La (Bad Education, 2004, Spanish, Pedro Almodóvar (Director), Agustín Almodóvar (Producer), 101 mins)

Melancholia (2011, Danish/French/Swedish/German, Lars Von Trier (Director), Meta Louise Foldager and Louise Vesth (Producers), 136 mins)

Modern Times (1936, US, Charles Chaplin (Director, Producer), 85 mins, B&W)

Prêt-a-Porter (Ready to Wear; 1994, US, Robert Altman (Director, Producer), 133 mins)

Secretary (2002, US, Steven Shainberg (Director), Steven Shainberg, Andrew Fierberg and Amy Hobby (Producers), 106 mins)

Star Wars, Episode I, The Phantom Menace (1999, US, George Lucas (Director), Rick McCallum (Producer), 132 mins)

Week End (Weekend; 1967, Italian/French, Jean-Luc Godard (Director), Les Film Copernic/Comacico/Lira Films (Paris)/Ascot Cineraid (Rome) (Producers), 105 mins) – and all other flms by Jean-Luc Godard

We Were Soldiers (2002, US/German, Randall Wallace (Director, Producer), Bruce Davey and Stephen McEveety (Producers), 138 mins)